While we’re waiting for the objections rule, thought I’d post a few miscellaneous items..
Here’s a link and below are some excerpts.
Forest owners, logging companies and those who value gainful employment won a significant victory Wednesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, which opined that logging roads are not point sources of pollution requiring discharge permits under the Clean Water Act. The lopsided, 7-1 decision reversed the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, whose wisdom promised, warned Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in 2011, to “bury private, state and tribal forest lands in a wave of litigation.”
Party time, right?
Not quite. As important as the decision is for forest owners, some of them are keeping the bubbly on ice until Congress makes the long-standing policy challenged by environmental groups a matter of law. Can you blame them, given the determination of litigants to keep right on litigating and prodding?
Meanwhile, environmental lawyer Paul Kampmeier told The Oregonian’s Scott Learn last week, his organization, the Washington Forest Law Center, will keep right on “pushing EPA to do something …” And why not? As Kampmeier pointed out, “The court generally ruled that the ball’s in the EPA’s court.”
The most effective way to provide long-term security for forest owners is to change the law, as legislation sponsored during the last Congress by Wyden and others would do. Unfortunately, the legislation died despite gathering a bipartisan collection of sponsors. It deserves another shot.
This seems to be another of those “Congress should act” kinds of things…perhaps we need a grassroots movement for “Congress stepping up” in some of these areas? Perhaps a “sustainable forests and national forest communities” Manifesto?
This came across me email from the LM Tribune online here.
The U.S. Forest Service is changing the process by which citizens can challenge timber sales and other actions.
Under the new guidelines, which are expected to be unveiled this week, people who want to challenge agency actions will be required to fully participate in the public review process and file formal objections prior to forest supervisors making final decisions.
Some of you may remember that I wrote my Senators asking why this had been requested by Congress last year and still hadn’t been completed. That was part of the post here Paid Gladiators and Unpaid Peacemakers: There Must Be a Better Way.”
Here is what happened:
Senator Udall’s office first wrote back and said they received my email. In about six weeks they sent a copy of a letter they sent to the Chief asking about it and for the Forest Service to write me back (I expect this became “controlled correspondence”). I never heard from the Forest Service, but if the objections rule is coming out, that’s what I wanted. As I noted before, they had a place for natural resources in their drop down menu.
Senator Bennett’s office never wrote back to say they received my email. About a month and a half in they sent a form letter saying that they noted my concerns and would take them into consideration (which actually wasn’t the point). This office’s dropdown didn’t have a place for natural resources so I had to select “environment.” For the State of Colorado. Really.
They are both in the same party, so it appears that it’s not a partisan issue.
Ed had mentioned in a previous comment here
In response to your great suggestion about working with (talking to) our fed reps, I have to share from an Idaho perspective. As you likely know, Idaho has gone totally to the right, with extreme GOP control at all levels, county, school boards, House and Senate. OK, I accept that we of the other persuasion are vastly outnumbered.
But I have, on a few occasions, emailed my federal reps in DC. Their electronic sites are a real test of how determined you are to finish. Layer after layer of background and categories before you can insert your message. And you go through this again and again, each time you want to confer. Can’t help but wonder if all this preliminary junk is really intended to screen us out so we won’t “bother them”.
And knowing that I and “them” are so politically separated, my efforts are half-hearted. Tried the phone a few times, but again how many comments to some intern answering the phone are really passed accurately to the congressmen or senators. Doubtful.
A real challenge to be an environmental Democrat in Idaho.
I know some of the rural economic groups have training in working with elected officials and even trips to DC, I wonder if some information is written down that could be shared here about how to work with Congressional folk? The retired feds may have some pent-up desire for this… but in some cases it has to be them who will have to find solutions to the problems we’ve identified.
House Agriculture Committee, Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry Hearing Wednesday. Here is the link.
National Forest Management and its Impacts on Rural Economies and Communities
It’s not a surprise that the Forest Service is hiding their response to the sequestration. Simply put, modern projects treat more acres and cut numerous small trees. They cannot accomplish this work without temporary employees. My last year’s Ranger District currently has TWO permanent timber employees, and two others shared with another (larger) Ranger District. I wonder if our Collaborative funds will be returned to the Treasury if projects aren’t completed.
I guess the only way to find out how bad it will be is to welcome the collapse, then decide how to fix it. Meanwhile, the best of the temporaries will find careers (or jobs) elsewhere, and they won’t be coming back. It is hard enough to live on just 6 months of work, each year.
Previously we had stayed away from Congress, and partisan politics on this blog because of its tendency to promote, and my personal low tolerance for, dishonesty and mean-spiritedness. However, I am beginning to think that we may be called, in some, perhaps minor, way to help with those tendencies in our own little corner of the world. And through the years, I think we have proven that we can talk about contentious topics without demonizing people who disagree. Hopefully we can share our opinions about the ideas and legislation, but leave off the nasty asides about the people and parties. So,to that end, we might watch together here the progress of the Congress dealing with public lands issues. So I’m starting a new blog category called “Congress”.
This story is from E&E News:
“The Natural Resources Committee, along with its five subcommittees, is ready to get to work this Congress with a continued focus on job creation,” Hastings said in a statement. “Through oversight and legislative proposals, we’ll continue to show how the smart, responsible use and protection of our natural resources and public lands can be one of the greatest ways to grow our economy.”
Leadership atop the five subcommittees has not changed, although Hastings last month announced that Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) will be leading a newly named Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, which will take jurisdiction over federal lands and the National Environmental Policy Act, among other issues.
Bishop chaired the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands in the last Congress and was widely expected to take the full committee gavel before Hastings was passed up for chairman of the Rules Committee and stayed put. Bishop told E&E Daily last week that he expects to shine a spotlight on NEPA and the president’s use of the Antiquities Act as chairman of his new subcommittee (E&E Daily, Jan. 16).
Republicans, who are losing one seat on the panel, are welcoming five freshmen: Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Doug LaMalfa of California, Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana and Chris Stewart of Utah.
Check out who is on what subcommittees here: they may be your Representative.
It sounds like the topic we often discuss here “is there a better way?” will become the topic of this new subcommittee.